Work harder by remembering you don’t have to work

What things will you do this week, not because you particularly want to, but because you feel you have to? For many people, this probably includes everything work related, from waking up early in the morning, to gritting teeth through a rush hour commute, to trying to stay awake through a particularly torturous meeting. Whatever…

What’s your birth control doing to your brain?

Any woman starting on a birth control pill is warned about some of the physical and emotional effects of those additional hormones floating around in your bloodstream: weight gain. mood swings. acne. headaches. If you’ve followed along popular science reports, you may even have heard that being on the pill could change what kind of person…

Mornings are only moral for morning people

This is Part II of a series of three blog entries, based on a series of three articles in which two teams of researchers go back and forth on what they think is the influence of time on day on our decisions. Part I was posted last Thursday, and Part III will be posted this…

Positive emotions may reduce racist perception

As tempting as it can be to dismiss the fanciful sounding ideas of “the power of a positive attitude”, every now and then a scientific study will show that positive emotions reach into unexpected corners of our brains to tweak our thoughts and actions in small yet significant ways. As one example, simply being joyful or…

Women, science, stereotypes, and Star Trek

At the start of the semester, my mind always turns to matters of gender and sex differences. Not because I teach at a women’s college, or because one or two students out themselves as being transgender or gender fluid, but because virtually every course I teach touches on the nature-nurture issue in our opening weeks, and…

A battle over the link between strep and OCD

Today I introduced a class of students to the notion that a strep infection could give a child obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The idea was first widely publicized in the memoir “Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD“, and briefly recapped in this clip from the Today Show: I am already on record as identifying this…

Facebook and Filter Bubbles

Yes, this is about the Facebook kerfluffle of the week, the probably-unethical and definitely-badly-managed study showing that changing users’ News Feeds would change what users posted themselves. Oddly enough, given my standing as a teacher of research methods and a practicing psychology researcher, I am not outraged about the ethics of the study itself; I am…

Why you should never take notes on a laptop

I may teach in the 21st century, but I like my classroom technology-free: no smartphones, and not even any laptops or iPads for students to take notes on. Naturally, some 21st century students object to these luddite tendencies. And if I could just get them to listen to the great new research on laptops, perhaps…

Mindfully balancing work and life

The buzzword of modern America seems to be “work-life balance”. While some have stepped forward to say that we’re thinking about the relationship between work and life all wrong, they are still a minority whose voices are drowned out by the thunderous advice from the news media, therapists, and even some employers about how we…